ONE FC finally released the full details of its "War of the Lions" fight card, which is taking place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on March 31, 2012, and there is no shortage of big names. The big news is that Renato Sobral has been replaced with DEEP Light Heavyweight Champion Yoshiyuki Nakanishi who will be taking on Melvin Manhoef in a middleweight fight.
A number of the bouts had already been revealed including the main event which pits highly rated lightweight Zorobabel Moreira against Felipe Enomoto, who is coming off a big win against Ole Laursen in the final fight of the night at ONE FC 2.
Laursen was also rewarded for his contribution to that highly entertaining affair with an instant return to action and he goes up against Eduard Folayang in a fight which was originally scheduled to be the main event at ONE FC 1 and is sure to go down well with the Singapore crowd.
His Team Lakay team mate Kevin Belingon has the biggest fight of his career when he takes on Masakazu Imanari. The Filipino is 9-0 and has fought in Hong Kong and Singapore but never been up against an opponent as experienced as the Japanese leg-lock master.
Two veterans will go head to head when Yuya Shirai faces Fabrice Monteiro. The Singapore based Brazilian has endured some indifferent results recently but he has a fantastic opportunity to show why he was once ranked as one of the world's top welterweights when he takes on the reigning DEEP 170 lbs champion.
In total there are five fighters from Evolve MMA, the Singapore based camp which has a reputation as being the best in Asia, on the card. One of them, Eddie Ng from Hong Kong, will take on Malaysian Muay Thai champion Jian Kai Chee in a match up which has 'striker vs grappler' written all over it.
Former boxing world champion Yodsanan Sityodtong is also back in action and will face a sterner test of his MMA credentials against China's Jiang Long Yun who holds a 3-1-1 record and has faced some of the best fighters in Asia and Australia.
For the local media the main attraction is likely to be the first ever female fight to take place on a ONE FC card which sees Singapore's Nicole Chua taking on Indian Jeet Toshi. Chua has a strong background in Muay Thai but will be making her MMA debut whereas Toshi is a national kickboxing champion with 1-0 MMA record.
Kim Hock and Juan Wen Jie will also both be making their professional debuts in an all Singaporean affair which should generate plenty of local interest. The first fight of the night is much more international but it will be an opportunity for 11-2 TUF veteran Richie Whitson to show that he is ready for a UFC return by beating one of Manhoef's trainers, Danny Van Bergen.
There is one more fight to be announced with top rated featherweight Tatsuya Kawajiri still without an opponent. He is a former Shooto Champion who has fought for both Strikeforce and DREAM's lightweight titles and it will be very interesting to see who ONE FC find to face him.
Any one of six of the fights of this card could conceivably have been made the main event which speaks volumes about the quality of the mixed martial artists who will be on display. There is no word yet on details of the broadcast although ESPN Star Sports will start showing repeats of ONE FC shows this month.
It will be the most star studded card in the history of South East Asian MMA with a line up littered with names who will be familiar to fight fans all over the region.The partnerships which ONE FC formed with promotions all over Australia and Asia are also starting to pay dividends with no fewer than three fighters from DEEP and DREAM on the card.
A couple of years ago the Asian MMA landscape was pretty much barren but with the UFC making occasional forays East and ONE FC raising the bar with every event the future looks very bright indeed!
ONE Fighting Championship 'War of the Lions
Singapore Indoor Stadium, March 31st, 2012.
Felipe Enomoto vs Zorobabel Moreira
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs TBA
Eduard Folayang vs Ole Laursen
Yuya Shirai vs Fabricio Monteiro
Melvin Manhoef vs Yoshiyuki Nakanishi
Jian Kai Chee vs Eddie Ng
Masakazu Imanari vs Kevin Belingon
Jeet Toshi vs Nicole Chua
Kim Hock vs Juan Wen Chie
Kian Long Yun vs Yodsanan Sityodtong
Danny Van Bergen vs Richie Whitson